National security scholar Dr. Joshua Sinai has just published a new analysis on the evolving threat to US interests by Al Qaeda and their associated adherents. The underlying premise of Dr. Sinai’s article is that the serious threat to U.S. interests from Al Qaeda has not diminished, but it has changed, adapted and is deliberately concealing its nefarious plans to attack the United States – a sentiment that overlaps, albeit somewhat slightly, the testimony provided Tuesday by ODNI director General James Clapper.
As reported by CQ Homeland Security this week (subscription required), General Clapper came to a slightly different conclusion, that al-Qaida’s ability to carry out terrorist attacks on the United States is sorely degraded.
“Senior personnel losses in 2012, amplifying losses and setbacks since 2008, have degraded core al Qaeda to a point that the group is probably unable to carry out complex, large-scale attacks in the West,” he stated in prepared testimony.
CQ writes: “Clapper emphasized other worldwide threats besides cyberattacks and ‘core’ al-Qaeda. Al Qaeda offshoots continue to be dangerous, from al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula to domestic extremists inspired by the terrorist movement.”
Both Dr. Sinai and General Clapper may be right, and whatever differences there are between their positions may be a matter of viewing the problem from differing angles. A glass half-full is also half-empty, as the saying goes.
Nevertheless, as Congress looks for guidance from the American people on what federal program budgets can be cut, and as Dr. Sinai’s analysis is weighed against that of General Clapper, they may come to different conclusions.
It will be interesting to see which viewpoint prevails as Congress appropriates public money to go toward security priorities. When the inevitable terrorist attack occurs, it will also be interesting to see which one(s) of the multitude of political opportunists on the Hill will be the first to point a finger elsewhere and try to place blame on someone other than themselves.
It’s not like they haven’t been warned.